Saturday, September 27, 2014

Huntsville Half Marathon

Wow!  Races in the rain are always a fun experience.  

I was asked to pace this half marathon a few weeks ago in the 1:50 spot.  I wasn't sure I could do it but told the pacer director I would give it a try.  I practiced 3 different times on a treadmill at the gym working on speed and was able to meet the challenge there.  I just wasn't up for trying it outside on the pavement.  I would much rather run in dirt on the trails when I run outside. But, I accepted the challenge anyway to pace.  

Friday evening I got to bed early around 9:00 pm and slept good for a few hours, and then tossed and turned from 2-5 am when the alarm went off.  Oh well, I take what sleep I can get on a pre-race eve. 

I headed North about 30 minutes to hook up with another pacer friend Rachael, who drove us up to Huntsville, another 60 minutes North in the pouring rain.  The sunrise coming through Weber Canyon was just incredible! 
We got to Huntsville and got our packets picked up and met up with the other pacers pacing the half marathon today.  I have run with all of these people before and enjoy the many friendships made through this crazy adventure of pacing and running.
Now, if you notice I am holding a 1:55 sign instead of the 1:50 I was asked to pace.  The dear sweet girl on the end, Melissa Willie, was ever so kind to switch me pacing spots.  Phew!!  I owe her some cookies!  I was so nervous about being able to hold an 8:28 pace for 13.1 miles on a not-so-much-downhill course.  The 1:55 spot made it so I had to keep an 8:46 pace instead, which was still a bit of a challenge today in the wind and rain.  
 This race was a very late starting half marathon-9:30 am.  What?  Crazy, but I was grateful since it was so far away from home and I would much rather sleep in my bed than a motel.  So around 8:15 we boarded the buses for the ride to the starting line.  I sat by my friend, London Riding and immediately I go into silly mode when the camera comes out.  Seriously, I need to just learn how to smile like a normal person.
 Even though I got to trade Melissa for 5 minutes slower I was still nervous about my job for the race.
Could I really do this when I am so used to running half marathons well past the 2 hour mark?
I just had to be so strong mentally and physically and perform well no matter what.  I didn't want to let the pace director down, or anyone else around me in the race who would have a goal to achieve.
 We got to the starting line area and I found my friend Josh Hansen.  What a great buddy.  I have run so many races with him since starting this running journey 4 years ago.  He is definitely like a little brother I've never had.  He is one funny guy.   
At 9:30 am the race started and we were off.  I wore my red jacket the entire race.  I think it only stopped raining for maybe a couple miles around 8 and 9.  Seriously?  My feet got wet, and I could feel blisters forming.  Keep trudging on though!!  The rain was coming in through my arm cuffs from holding my pacing sign and so I could feel rain pooling around my elbows.  Sheesh!  I still was having a fun time and just trying to stay focused on my task.  

The aid stations were great, almost every two miles, with oranges, bananas, pretzels, gatorade, and water.  The aid station at mile 10 was THE BEST!  It had cinnamon bears, swedish fish, and marshmallows.  You better believe I grabbed a couple handfuls!  I enjoyed those precious goodies for the next couple miles to help keep my mind off the extremely flat section we were running (in the wind no less)

I had a few people at different times throughout the course tell me I couldn't pass them.  That always makes me laugh!  I would slow down for a few seconds and tell them I would try not to, but of course I had to keep going on pace. I never had any one person stay with me for the entire race, which rarely happens anyway.  I did have a number of people come up and thank me after the race was over though.  I guess they were watching my sign from behind and grateful it was there.

I finished strong and feeling great with a time of 1:54:24.  Just 36 seconds under the 1:55.  Our pace director tells us we can be a little bit under the goal time.
 I headed over to the treat table and fueled up with some yummy goodness.  After-race treats are always a welcome sight for this hungry running lady.

Even though it rained so much, it wasn't a cold rain and so it was bearable.  It was a beautiful course with the fall leaves in the mountains and clouds down low.  Beauty everywhere and of course as I ran I was taking it all in with my thoughts being happy and spirits bright.  How can you not have a great experience when you get to behold the beauty of this great world we live while experiencing runner's highs?

I think this race will have to go on my repeat-for-next-year list.


Broyles said...

I'm so excited to see you write a post on this run. I had so much fun running in the rain! I have been following your blog since I decided I wanted to run a half back in March. Huntsville was my first! I didn't see you there, I was way back with the 2:10 pacer. You are an inspiration!